During the season, we'll keep fans updated on the chase for the American League Central Division by charting the Detroit Tigers' competition.
Before the All-Star break, the Detroit Tigers had a critical series in Kansas City. Despite a loss Sunday, the team took three of the four games played and made a statement to the Central Division in the process.
Now, there's plenty of separation at the top for the Tigers, who are in good shape as the second half begins. With the biggest division lead in baseball, they're all chasing Detroit again, but this time, there's more ground to make up than in other years for far more inconsistent teams.
Here's the divisional rundown prior to the opening of half two.
Kansas City Royals (48-46, 6.5 games back): Regardless of the win on the Sunday before the break, the Royals were dealt another significant blow by the Tigers mentally and in the standings. Earlier, Detroit had swept a series in Kansas City, and by taking three of four after surrendering the division lead to the Royals in a similar series at Comerica Park, the Tigers made a statement that they're back. It doesn't get easy for the Royals, as they have to start off in Boston. That should be a good test of their wits following the rough weekend.
Cleveland Indians (47-47, 7.5 games back): All in all, it was a decent first half for the Indians, but it needed to be much, much better. An inconsistent lineup and inconsistent pitching has hurt. After Detroit's last sweep in Cleveland stung the tribe greatly, they will have a make or break moment again this weekend in Detroit. Have a good showing with four games in three days and they're likely back in the race temporarily. Fall flat and it's probably time to start thinking about 2015 as it relates to the division.
Chicago White Sox: 45-51 (10.5 games back): The White Sox battled early in the season and upended the Tigers in the midst of their cold snap in June. They'll have another shot at Detroit in late July, but will probably have to get consistent in a hurry to get back in the division race. Jose Abreu helps, but he's only one man. The rest of the lineup hasn't been great. A series with Houston could help the White Sox get off to a good start. They'll need to in order to catch up with the Tigers and others.
Minnesota Twins 44-50 (10.5 games back): Like the White Sox, the Twins probably have their eyes on next year already. Starting the second half playing the Tampa Bay Rays on the road, the Twins will have to get hot in a hurry to make up ground against the Tigers. Detroit's been bothered a bit by Minnesota this season, but won't see the Twins again until late August. Until then, plenty of things need to happen to both Minnesota and Detroit for the Twins to pull out of last place and make an improbable climb in the division.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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Tags: Baseball, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, MLB